Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo

I woke up yesterday morning and decided, once and for all, that I’m going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in August. For those of you not of the writerly persuasion, regular NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It occurs every November & is a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. You don’t get anything for “winning,” just a completed novel, which most of us writers would consider reward enough.

Camp NaNoWriMo occurs each June and August. It is the same challenge each month. The difference from regular NaNo is that less people participate in these & there is less support. I had intended to participate in June, but then that whole pesky move thing happened and, well, writing in general was kind of hard to do.

However, I’m ready for the August camp. In fact, I’m feeling pretty psyched about it. For Camp NaNo, I’m going to write a sequel to my last NaNo novel, The Necromancer’s Son. Last NaNo was a fantastic experience for me. I gather that this isn’t necessarily always the case; a lot of people don’t finish at all. I attribute my success to the fact that I wasn’t working at the time, don’t have children to take care of, and was part of an awesome writing group.

Despite the fact that I’m working now (albeit part time) and no longer have a writing group (sob), I’m going to try something different this time around. I’m going to try writing my NaNo novel while continuing to work on another novel.

I might be insane.

But I figure that there’s no time like the present. Currently, I have no social life because I can’t really afford one. We have absolutely zero disposable income, especially for the next two weeks. I’ve been sticking pretty close to home anyway. So instead of watching too much Olympics/Netflix and reading too much fan fiction (to my great shame), I can throw my energy into lots and lots of writing.

It’s an experiment. It might fail. I might burnout. This is one of those instances where it could hurt to try, but I’m going to try it anyway. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

That is, if I’m still able to form coherent thoughts at the end.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

AIIW: Romantics Anonymous

Movie stats:
Released 2011 (USA)
French, with English subtitles
Director – Jean-Pierre Ameris
Stars – Benoit Poelvoorde & Isabelle Carre

Plot Summary:
Angelique (Isabelle Carre) is a woman suffering from severe social anxiety disorder. When she takes a job at a chocolatier’s, she meets Jean-Rene (Benoit Poelvoorde), a man who sweats profusely at the mere thought of making a connection with another human being. The two fall in love over their confections, but can two such emotionally stunted people truly work together as a couple?

Bad Stuff:
This is a personal pet peeve. I have a hard time believing stories where people fall in love in a very short amount of time (days) when they know virtually nothing about one another. At best, it doesn’t seem like a very genuine connection to me. In this particular movie, other than a few awkward, stilted conversations, Angelique and Jean-Rene have little contact with one another before they allegedly fall in love. That’s tough for me to swallow.

Also, there is a lot of talk about chocolate. It made me salivate and crave fine chocolates. I suppose that’s not really the movie’s fault.

Good Stuff:
Despite the fact that I was casting a side-eye at all this sudden “love,” I found myself rooting for the romance. I wanted Angelique and Jean-Rene to make it. Both main actors were fantastic. The characters felt very genuine to me. They weren’t overstated. Both of them were just so endearing that it was hard not to fall in love with them myself.

Additionally, I felt that it was a very loving, careful portrayal of social anxiety disorders. It was very straightforward, lacking in melodrama.

The ending was too cute for words.

The Verdict:
Who am I kidding? I’m a huge sap. I loved this movie. Is it a masterpiece? Definitely not. It’s a feel-good movie, perhaps just the right thing for one of those times when you’re feeling down. However, I will warn you that it’s very, very sweet. If you’re not into that sort of thing, don’t bother with this one.

This is another solid 4 stars.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

AIIW: Death Trance

Movie Stats:
Released 2006
Japanese, with English subtitles
Director – Yuji Shimomura
Stars – Tak Sakaguchi, Kentaro Seagal, Takamusa Suga

Plot Summary:
A coffin with magical properties is stolen from a monastery by a mysterious man (Tak Sakaguchi), who murders the monks who were guarding it. The lone survivor of the attack, a green young monk (Takamusa Suga), sets off on an epic journey to win back the coffin. Along the way, he encounters a cast of strange characters, including a gun-wielding mercenary (Kentaro Seagal) who becomes an ally (of sorts).

Bad Stuff:
Okay, this movie is weird. Really, really weird. It is weird to the point that, for the first 30 minutes or so, I didn’t really understand what was happening. This is not to say that I was surprised that the movie was weird. After all, it’s Japanese. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a Japanese movie that wasn’t weird.

Good Stuff:
Surprisingly, Kentaro Seagal. As you might have already guessed, he’s related to THAT Seagal. He’s Steven’s son, born in Japan and raised there by his Japanese mother. He looks a lot like his father, but apparently gained all of the acting ability he lacks. I thought he was fantastic in this movie & am disappointed to discover that he doesn’t seem to act regularly.

I also enjoyed that this movie didn’t have any “redemption” arcs. This isn’t anyone’s coming-of-age tale. People who suck at fighting at the beginning suck at fighting at the end. People who are seeking to right a past wrong may fail at doing so. Etc. I found it refreshing.

Lastly, I cheer this movie for not shoehorning in any love stories, despite the fact there is a very pretty female character. What a lovely change from American action movies, where they seem to think that people (women?) can’t be possibly interested in a film unless there’s love involved (I am specifically looking at you, Thor).

The Verdict:
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this movie. I still find myself thinking of it often, even though I watched it probably 3 or 4 months ago. While it was weird, it was also fun. I liked the fight scenes. Most of the acting was really good. Some might find the ambiguous ending irritating, but I liked it.

All in all, I give it a solid 4 stars.

Adventures in Instant Watch (AIIW)

I’ve been thinking about doing this feature for a while. I even considered starting a whole new blog just for this, but at this point, I don’t think I’m capable of updating consistently enough to warrant a second blog. So Adventures in Instant Watch (AIIW) is going to start here. If it takes off, I’ll move it to its own blog.

I hear people complain all the time that they can’t find anything they want to watch on Netflix’s instant watch program. This perplexes me because I find all sorts of interesting things on there. Granted, most of them are not things I was looking for. I’m guessing that’s what people are actually trying to tell me: that the new blockbuster movies and/or popular television shows that they want to watch don’t immediately appear on Netflix.

I think this has more to do with who owns the rights to these TV shows & movies than it has to do with Netflix, but I digress. The bottom line is this: I think people are nuts when they say there isn’t anything interesting to see on instant watch.

I love Netflix because it has lead me to watch all kinds of things I had never even heard of before. This doesn’t bother me. If I want to see the big blockbusters, I’ll go see them in the theater; otherwise I can wait a while. And I’m so out-of-touch with TV that I’ve never even heard of most shows I might want to see until they turn up on instant watch. So I like that Netflix has opened up a world of independent and/or foreign movies for me.

I won’t lie. Most of the movies I’ve watched were mediocre. However, some of them have been really great. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to do blog posts highlighting some of these things. You never know, maybe someone will read one of my reviews and discover their favorite movie of all time. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

South Padre Island

I recently took a trip to South Padre Island. For those of you not in the know, South Padre is a tiny island at the very tip of southern Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s narrow but long, tropical and balmy, a popular destination for family vacations throughout much of the year and for college students during Spring Break.

Gulf of Mexico

I took a handful of pictures on the trip, although not enough to bother posting them for friends to see on FB. So I thought I’d post a few of them here.

Laguna Madre Bay

I had intended to take more but I found that South Padre isn’t exactly picturesque. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have a good time, because I did. I just don’t think it’s especially pretty there. The island is highly developed, full of hotels and condos and restaurants and tacky souvenir shops. It’s also full of people. Perhaps I was spoiled by Maui; I was expecting less concrete, more jungle.

Laguna Madre Bay, looking back at the island

At any rate, the trip was fun, very laid back and relaxing. I went to the beach every day for long walks in the surf. It might have been romantic if I hadn’t been alone, haha. Fortunately, I found it conducive to overcoming writer’s block. I had a lot of great ideas walking along the South Padre beaches. I have to wonder if I might have taken better advantage of Maui when I lived there, if I’d only known that the beach had magical writer-enhancing properties.

Texas sunflowers

So I hope you enjoy these pics. And if you get the chance, take a nice long walk today. You might just come up with the next great American novel while you’re at it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

If I had any regular readers, other than the lovely Miss P, I would apologize more profusely for having abandoned this blog for several months. Life got in the way and since most of y’all are my friends, you understand why.

The short version, for those not in the know, is that the video game company that the husband and I had been helping to build collapsed. No need to go into the details of why here. The collapse left us short on cash & looking for work. After a semi-frantic search, the husband landed his dream job in Dallas. So we uprooted our lives, yet again, and here we are a month later, settling in to our new city.

Everything happened so fast that part of me is still reeling. I loved Austin. I never intended to leave, but if there’s one thing you learn as you age, it’s that life can change in the blink of an eye & all you can do is hang on for the ride.

So far, I like Dallas well enough. It’s a very, very different city from Austin, although not different in a way that causes immediate hatred (for me, anyway). I definitely feel like Austin was more my kind of place. However, I’m determined not to let the change of scenery get me down. I wasted so much of my life feeling sad when I was younger. I can’t do it any longer.

When I start to feel blue about the move, I remind myself of these things: I have a very comfortable roof over my head. I have plenty of food to eat. The husband loves his new job. Almost immediately, I landed a part-time job that is perfect in nearly every way & that I enjoy. I’m writing on a regular basis. I have my health. I’ve got two awesome, adorable pets. And I have the love of a good man.

Really, what more could a person want?

Now it is my intention to pick my blog back up again. I still have no idea where I’m going with it. I feel like this blog has yet to hit its stride. But I believe that, some day, I’ll figure out what I want to write about regularly. Until then, I’ll just try to update once a week and see what happens.

If you’re along for the ride, I hope we can all have a good time.